Exporting animations. And exporting them again.

August 7th, 2008 by Michael

My job these days consists largely of exporting character animations. It’s a tedious and slow process. So I will let you share in my boredom.

First I open the animation file in 3D Studio Max, and judge whether it’s good artistically, and technically acceptable. That’s the fun part because I get to see the wonderful work that Laura Raines Smith did in Texas while we were asleep here in Gent. If ok, which is most of the time, the animation data is saved (in a .bip file) and loaded onto the Official Character file, rigged by Hans Zantman. Then I export the animation in X format and import it in the game engine. 3D Studio Max crashes on average every 5 exports. In the game, for each animation, blending priority and loop frames, etc, need to be entered. Every time the skinning of the character changes (which has happened quite a bit), all those animations had to be processed again. Many of these animations have gone through the same process several times.

For the heck of it, I have counted the animations. There’s almost 500 in total! Most of them are simple short things like a walk cycle or an idle pose. But each is a separate file that needs to be treated. Next time somebody calls us insane, I’ll think twice before I contradict them.